Research Articles

What Good Is Military Strategy? An Analysis of Strategy and Effectiveness in the First Arab-Israeli War



What good is military strategy? According to the scholarship on military effectiveness, the answer is “not much”—strategy does not significantly affect the performance of armies in combat. Strategic theory scholarship disagrees and describes four specific mechanisms linking strategy to military effectiveness: Exploiting weaknesses in the adversary’s strategy; causing psychological dislocation in the enemy commanders; creating a favorable center of gravity and pattern of war; and focusing resources and controlling violence in service of political goals. This essay uses a case study from the southern front of the First Arab-Israeli War to explore how strategy affects military performance. We find that Israeli General Yigal Allon’s military strategy significantly increased the combat efficiency and battlefield performance of the Israeli Defense Force, consistent with the mechanisms suggested by strategic theory. These findings suggest that military strategy is indeed an important determinant of military effectiveness.


Military strategyMilitary EffectivenessWarStrategyArab-Israeli War
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 37–49
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.65
  • Submitted on 28 Jan 2020
  • Accepted on 7 May 2020
  • Published on 28 Jan 2021
  • Peer Reviewed